Social Media and Healthcare
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Physician, Brand Thyself -- Or Suffer The Dire Consequences

Of all the things that they forget to teach you in medical school, marketing is certainly one of them. And today, the dominance of social media and crowd-sourced ratings make it almost imperative that clinicians stay mindful of their reputation in the marketplace. Some people call it your brand. But between physical exams and insurance forms, this "clinical brand" may not ever get to be very high on your to-do list.

But don't worry. I've called in a specialist--you can even call him the brand doctor. Mark W. Schaefer is a globally recognized author, speaker, podcaster and business consultant who blogs at {grow}—one of the top five marketing blogs of the world.


He teaches graduate marketing classes at Rutgers University and has written six best-selling books, including The Tao of Twitter (the best-selling book on Twitter in the world) and The Content Code, named by Inc. magazine as one of the top five marketing books of the year, and his new book KNOWN: The Handbook for Building and Unleashing Your Personal Brand in the Digital Age. Mark also wrote the classic first book on influence marketing, Return On Influence.

So, put down your stethoscope and log into one of your social media accounts...

John Nosta: Let's start with understanding just what is a personal brand and its components.


Mark Schaefer: I've done research for the last few years to discover how people become known in the world. Part of that research involved interviews with nearly a hundred people from around the world in varying fields (including medicine). And I found that every person, in every field, in every region of the world followed the same four steps gain an advantage through their personal brand.

Briefly, those four steps are:

  1. identifying a sustainable interest (what you want to be known for).
  2. finding an un-contested space on the web.
  3. creating consistent, meaningful content.
  4. building an actionable audience.

Nosta: How does branding apply to the healthcare professional?

Schaefer: I think that every professional can potentially have a sustainable competitive advantage by being known. It's kind of word-of-mouth on steroids. Where do you want to go next with your career? Attract more patients? Be named to a prestigious board? Maybe write a book or speak someday? To do that, you have to be known.

Nosta: At the core is the "position." How can a HCP focus around a unique selling proposition?

Image provided by Mark Schaefer

Schaefer: I have a new angle on the "selling proposition" in the book. I don't think people want to be "sold to" any more. They buy from those they know, like and trust. So how do we do that today on the internet? By using technology to create an emotional connection with people. By helping them, serving them, maybe even entertaining them. Instead of "selling," I think the operative word is "helping" today.

Nosta: Let's talk technology. How can HCPs leverage social media to help establish and grow a brand? (Is this going to hurt?)

Schaefer: If it "hurts," it's not going to work. That's why I focus so much on this concept of the "sustainable interest" in the book. Developing a personal brand in the digital age requires that you love what you're doing because if you don't it's going to show! So it makes sense to really think this through and not simply follow a "passion" (as so many gurus suggest!) but to have a real plan that will give you the very best chance of success.

If you find a system and a rhythm that works for you, you'll be able to develop something consistently because it does take time and patience to make this work.


Schaefer: I think there are two things that overwhelm people. Number one is the rate of change. How do I keep up with this stuff? The first thing to do is find a content type that you enjoy (like writing or video) and stick with just that one thing for at least a year. Build an audience in one to two places like Facebook and Twitter. That's it. Just concentrate on that one small step.

The other thing that overwhelms people is the regulatory aspects. I have several examples from regulated industries in the book and it really can work. Just look at social media as an extension of yourself. You don't break rules or violate patient privacy in real life. Why would you do it online? Just do what comes natural--help, serve, explain.

Nosta: Do you have a short case study or example of success in this category?

Schaefer: I know of this pediatrician who wanted to establish a presence on the web to do one thing: educate people in her community to get inoculated. And it was that single-minded vision that allowed her to focus and maximize her efforts. She had a of success using content on the internet to reach those individuals with that information. You see, being known is different from being famous. It's not about millions of fans and red carpet appearances. It's about being intentional about your reputation and web presence so you can achieve your goals. So, the bottom line is to focus and enjoy the ride.

Follow me @JohnNosta for a more informed and healthy future.

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Social Media and Healthcare
Articles and Discussions on the intersection of Social Media and Healthcare.
Relevant to Healthcare Practitioners, Pharma', Insurance, Clinicians, Labs, Health IT Vendors, Health Marketeers, Health Policy Makers, Hospital Administrators.
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Social Media Implementation Checklist

Social Media Implementation Checklist | Social Media and Healthcare |

Set goals first. If traffic, leads and sales are part of the goal, then gotta have the next focus be on content creation. Then, using social to share. Can't get much value out of social unless you're actively creating, publishing and sharing content. 

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Physicians behaving badly on Twitter

Physicians behaving badly on Twitter | Social Media and Healthcare |

At a time when physicians are feeling besieged on all sides, it hardly seems fair to write about the lack of civility demonstrated by some members of the profession on social media in Canada.

But it’s still an important issue that needs to be addressed — with the caveat that no profession or segment of society is blameless and the focus is due to the focus of this particular blog.

The post is prompted by a recent workshop held at the annual Canadian Conference on Physician Leadership (#CCPL17) held in Vancouver titled “Professionalism and respect within the profession: demonstrating leadership and creating a safe space for debate.”



The good news from the discussion — social media is not to blame for outbreaks of incivility and bullying which can occur between physicians. The bad news? Incivility still appears to be rampant throughout medicine and has yet to be satisfactorily addressed.

The impetus for the workshop was a fracas on social media last summer associated with a vote on a proposed fee deal for the Ontario Medical Association which saw a leader of the OMA student association subjected to threatening social media posts and the subsequent public attention drawn to the dispute.


The decision was taken by conference organizers not just to focus on physician behavior on social media but rather to look at incivility and bad behavior in medicine in general and work being undertaken by the Canadian Medical Association (@CMA_docs) to address this in the spirit of professionalism.

During the discussion, Dr. Michael Kaufmann, the recently retired head of the physician health program in Ontario, noted he dealt with problems caused by incivility between physicians on a weekly basis. It was also stated that hundreds of physicians across the country have been or will be found guilty of unprofessional conduct by demonstrating disruptive behavior.

“The lack of civility in the medical profession is mind boggling,” is how one physician audience member described the scope of this behavior. Or, as Dr. Kaufmann put it more poetically, “We have some broken windows in the house of medicine.”


So, while social media is clearly not to blame for doctors behaving badly, the point was also made that social media can breed incivility by prompting spur-of-the-moment outbursts, misinterpretations due to the sketchiness of the posts on platforms like Twitter, and in some cases the dimension of anonymity.

With the medical profession feeling under attack from all sides, views that that break ranks with the majority are going to be challenged — often emotionally. Students and recent graduates are often the most common targets because they are said not to understand the realities of the situation.

The problem is that social media is not designed to promote measured, respectful debate.


“We will tell you when you can speak and what you can speak about,” is how panel member Dr. Dennis Kendel (@DennisKendel), a Saskatchewan physician and active tweeter described the response when he was seen as questioning that pro-physician unity.

Sadly, social media continues to be severely underused by physicians as a professional tool for information gathering and networking (despite being used by peer leader in many areas).

It is also clear that the rules of engagement on social media platforms by their very nature can aggravate instances of poor communication and cause difficult situations to deteriorate.

Despite encouraging social media use at the Vancouver conference, organizers and speakers appeared very cognizant of this. Witness the fact that more than once, delegates were cautioned against tweeting certain remarks or asked to do so with a degree of exquisite sensitivity rarely taught to professional journalists let alone well-intentioned civilian commentators.

Well, as the late Hunter S. Thompson might have remarked, this particular missive seems to be drawing to a close without pulling together all the narrative threads as required.


  • It’s a tough time to be a physician.
  • It’s a tougher time to be a young physician with unpopular views.
  • It is to be hoped the CMA initiative will have an impact.
  • Social media is impacting discourse across society in positive and negative ways we have yet to fully figure out.

Pat Rich is a digital writer, Health Quality Ontario.  He can be reached on Days of Past Futures and on Twitter @pat_health.

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5 Ways Healthcare Brands Can Stand out to HCPs in the Digital Ecosystem

Learn 5 ways healthcare brands can stand out to physicians in the digital ecosystem: - Key physician trends and best practices you need to know for more effect…
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How to help your doctors realize the power of social media 

How to help your doctors realize the power of social media  | Social Media and Healthcare |
Whenever I have an appointment with a new doctor, I like telling him or her what I do for a living.

Here’s how a typical conversation starts:

“I’m a health care social media writer,” I say. “I help hospitals figure out the best ways to reach their audience through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, you know—whatever all the kids are on these days.”

If the doctor says, “Oh, that sounds interesting,” here’s what I say next:

“My favorite part is when I teach doctors how to set up their own social media accounts. At first, they seem worried about it, but once they get the hang of it, they really start to like it.”

If the doctor replies, “Oh, that sounds interesting” again, I keep going. They start asking me questions, they share their concerns about social media, and soon we both forget why I came to their office in the first place.

If your hospital sees a doctor with social media potential, here’s how to start the conversation:

Do patients trust you over ‘Dr. Google’?

Patients come to doctors with crackpot ideas about ailments and treatments because there’s so much bad medical information online. They don’t know where to turn. That’s when blogging comes in handy.

“Imagine if you told me after this appointment that I have stomachtradistisorious,” I say. “The first thing I’m going to do after this appointment is Google it. But let’s say you specialize in treating that disease and you have written several blog posts about it—symptoms, causes and treatment options. If your blog posts show up on my search, I’d see you as the authority on it. I’d trust you.”

Do you want to be on TV, get quoted in a magazine or speak at a conference?

Most doctors like being in the spotlight—sharing ideas, connecting with other doctors and seeing their name in print. Social media helps feed their ego.

“The best way to get journalists and other news organizations to notice you is to go where they are—online,” I say. “Your hospital marketing department is always looking for doctors to go on TV or get quoted in a blog when something happens at your hospital or if there’s something they need an expert opinion on. If you’re on social media, you can be the voice for your hospital and your community.”

Have you heard of @SeattleMamaDoc?

Doctors are competitive. They want to know what their peers are up to. That’s when I tell them aboutDr. Wendy Sue Swanson and her partnership with Seattle Children’s Hospital.

“Do you remember when Jenny McCarthy said on ‘Oprah’ that vaccines were linked to autism?” I ask. “After the episode aired, Dr. Swanson, a pediatrician, said her patients were really scared and asked her a lot of questions. She decided to start a blog to help alleviate their fears. Since then, the blog has become so successful that she’s had speaking gigs in Australia, she advises the CDC on improving pediatric/parenting messaging and has more than 30,000 followers on Twitter. And it all started because she wanted to help make sure kids got vaccinated.”

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Social Medial for Health Research: Interventions

A part of the Workshop on Social Media for Health Research, here we look at some of the latest research on the success of using latest tech for health interven…
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HIPPA Compliant Patient Surveys to Optimize Patient Engagement and Increase Effectiveness of Post Visit Communication

HIPPA Compliant Patient Surveys to Optimize Patient Engagement and Increase Effectiveness of Post Visit Communication | Social Media and Healthcare |

Having a post-visit communication plan can significantly improve patient outcomes by reducing the number of  emergency visits, decreasing the hospital re-admission rate, and improving chronic disease management.  Utilizing HIPPA compliant patient surveys is an excellent way for providers to gather post-visit information that enables them to monitor patient well being, verify medication adherence, and review care plan compliance, all of which improves patient satisfaction and help patients maintain good health.

Despite the importance of follow-up communication, few healthcare organizations have a robust post-visit communication plan in place.

A recent survey of 50 health professional and healthcare administrators conducted by Bridge Patient Portal, demonstrated that only 30% of organizations have an adequate post-visit communication plan in place.

The survey also examined the areas of post-visit communication that pose the greatest challenges for healthcare organizations.

Post-Visit Patient Communication Challenges

Post-Visit Communication and Patient Engagement Goals

For survey respondents whose organizations do have a patient engagement strategy, when asked which goals they were trying to accomplish, the majority (59 percent) said continuity of care for better health.


Barriers to Implementing Post Visit Communication Plans

The Bridge Patient Portal survey indicated that there are multiple  barriers to addressing the post-visit patient communication challenges According to the survey,the two biggest barriers for healthcare organizations are “internal problems with managing existing technology” and “lack of knowledge to produce a satisfactory solution.” Moderate barriers include: lack of internal staff resources, lack of budget, and lack of interest by management or not a priority.


The results show that post-visit patient communication is a significant problem for many healthcare organizations, and the barriers for adoption cannot always be resolved internally. For this reason, it is increasingly important for organizations to work with third parties, including patient engagement strategists, consultants, and vendors that offer patient survey software to develop comprehensive plans to improve post-visit communication and, as a result, patient health outcomes.  With Bridge Patient Portal’s robust,  HIPPA compliant forms and secure notification system to deliver surveys to patients you will have a trusted partner to build your organization’s post visit communication plan.

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Creating a Socially-Intelligent Pharma Enterprise

In this session, Steve Reeves of DRG will outline the process by which pharma organizations are beginning to use social and other digital data sources collecti…
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ProSites | 5 Tactics to Target the Right New Patients

ProSites | 5 Tactics to Target the Right New Patients | Social Media and Healthcare |
When it comes to dental practice marketing, identifying and targeting your ideal target audience can help you have more effective marketing messages and increase practice growth. While targeting your ideal patient may seem simple in theory, it can be difficult to execute. The key is getting in front of potential new patients in the right place at the right time, with the right message that resonates with your audience.
Here are five actionable tips to help you attract your ideal patients.
1. Define your ideal patient by creating personas. According to Buffer, “A marketing persona is a composite sketch of a key segment of your audience. For content marketing purposes, you need personas to help you deliver content that will be most relevant and useful to your audience.” 
Creating marketing personas helps focus your marketing strategies and tactics so that your efforts are likely to resonate with your targeted audience. In this case, you’ll want to create a persona based on the type of patients that you want to attract. Once you have identified your persona(s), put yourself in their shoes. Think of what their goals are – a mother with a goal of keeping her three kids happy and healthy – and what their challenges may be in trying to achieve their goals– like finding enough time to go to the dentist between working a full-time job and juggling after-school activities. This way you can create marketing messages that resonate with your audience and address their concerns (flexible hours, driving directions, programs for fearful patients).
Check out this guide to help you get started.  
2. Answer common patient questions with content that includes keywords a patient is likely to use. Once you identify the types of patients that you want to target (e.g. moms in your community), put yourself in their shoes to think about what types of keywords they’d use to find services that you offer. Moms are likely to search for children or family dentist. Young adults may want cosmetic dentistry or teeth whitening services. Use online tools like AdWords keyword planner to find and expand your list of keywords to utilize throughout your website’s content. 
Alternatively, you can use Google’s “suggested search” and “related search” to find other phrases that your target audience might use.
Suggested search:
Related search (bottom of results page):
3. Earn search engine credibility by optimizing your existing content with keywords. You can improve your ranking on search results pages by creating new content with targeted keywords (e.g. cosmetic dentistry) and also including these words within your existing website pages.
In the eyes of search engines, optimizing your content improves topic-relevance and credibility, which encourages search engines like Google to show your website high on a results page. Because prospective patients trust search engines results, they perceive higher organic rankings as more trustworthy recommendations.
Pro-tip: hyperlink all new content that you create (e.g. your blog posts) to other pages on your website throughout the article. For example, an article comparing composite fillings to amalgam fillings could include links to other pages on your website that talk about the various types of fillings that you offer. Doing these types of links helps draw readers deeper into your website, and allows search engines to easily crawl your website and rank it favorably. 
4. Use a blend of traditional and digital marketing channels. Not all of your patients will respond exclusively to digital messaging like email, search, and social media. Use traditional marketing methods, such as postcards, to keep a balanced marketing mix. Postcards can be beneficial since they have staying power—people can’t just click “delete” like they can on an email—and people may put them up on their fridge as a reminder. 
5. Consider pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. PPC advertising means you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. When launching a PPC campaign, you must identify: 
  1. Your audience 
  2. Keywords your audience uses to find answers to their questions
  3. Amount of search volume per each keyword
  4. The specific keywords you want to target and bid on
In creating a persona and keyword strategy, you can utilize this information toward your pay-per-click campaign. 
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Introduction to Social Media for Health Care

It's important for healthcare communicators to understand how to write for social media. This presentation reviews how to be respectful of patients within our …
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Scientists call for consistent guidelines on social media use in reseaerch 

Scientists call for consistent guidelines on social media use in reseaerch  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Researchers from the Department have called for guidelines to be made available to researchers who are considering using social media

Scientists at the University of York have called for guidelines, informed by public opinion, to be made available to researchers who are considering using social media as a research tool.

Whilst there has been much debate on the ethics of using social media posts in research, a comprehensive search of studies from around the globe only identified 11 that have explored the views of social media users on employing such research methods, and as few as six which considered the views of researchers.

Attitudes from social media users varied according to the studies, from people stating that such research is essential, to those strongly against their posts being used in this context.

Social media users were generally more supportive of their content being used if the research was conducted to a high standard, was conducted by respected researchers, did not include children or vulnerable people, and was aimed at making life better for patients or communities.

Personal views

Social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, are increasingly used by researchers to get a more personal and immediate view of peoples’ experiences on a range of issues, such as drug use, attempted suicide, and virus outbreaks.

Much of social media is publically available and provides a large amount of useful data to researchers; this can include geo-tagging information for researching disease spread and searches for clusters of key words, such as ‘virus’ or ‘infection.’

Dr Su Golder, from the Department, said: “We can see how popular social media is becoming in academic fields due to the number of journals and discussion lists dedicated to social media research and training programmes for researchers on how to use these channels as a research tool.

“There is no doubt that social media can be very useful in research, but there are many important ethical questions that surround it. Should researchers have to ask permission from the person posting the information? Can they use non-public sites? Is it enough for researchers to anonymise any posts that they use?”

Raising awareness

Some research institutions provide specific ethical guidelines on social media in research, but others do not have any and some will instead defer to organisations such as the Association for Internet Researchers (AoIR) Guidelines.

Dr Golder said: “Many social media users do not realise that their views could be used in research and they are therefore not posting comments and images with this in mind. 

“The more social media users become aware that researchers are looking at their accounts, the greater the risk that users become guarded about posting their honest opinions or posting anything at all.  

“This is particularly important for social media networks that provide valuable support networks across a range of issues, such as channels dedicated to information for new mothers, advice for cancer patients, and recovering alcoholics.

“It is therefore important that consistent and universal guidelines are produced that are informed by the views of social media users and that this becomes standard practice in ethics approval processes at universities and other research institutions.”

The research, funded by National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), is published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

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Digital Health Revolution and the Opportunity for Dietitians to Lead

This is a presentation that was given at the 96th Annual Conference of the Ohio Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics conference on May 18, 2017. During the sess…
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How Social Media Can Boost Your Medical Site

How Social Media Can Boost Your Medical Site | Social Media and Healthcare |

In today’s world, more and more medical business owners are realizing that they can use social media platforms to share their brand with their target audiences. If this is your objective, now is the time to learn how you can use social media to boost performance and effectiveness of your medical site. Use the information found in this quick reference guide to get started:

Social Media Optimization (SMO) 101

Social media optimization (SMO) is a form of digital marketing that involves interfacing with prospective clients on key channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Yelp. One of the big benefits of this form of marketing is that it constitutes a more casual, relaxed way of communicating with members of your target audience. Learn more about some strategies you can deploy to reach your audience by reviewing the following information:


Facebook is a huge social media platform where individuals can share basic information about themselves and connect with friends, family members, co-workers, and prospective customers. Many corporate leaders now maintain business pages that provide online audiences with key information about the value and purpose of their brand. Facebook contests are also effective methods of pushing your brand into the public eye. Participants share your posts with their friends and family in order to enter the contest, putting your practice or service at the forefront of their minds. By updating your page regularly and providing interesting, relevant content, you can keep participants up to date on your company through a fun, accessible format.


Twitter is a social network that allows users to broadcast short, 140-character “tweets” to other members of their networks. These tweets can be about anything under the sun, and they can include videos and pictures in addition to text. Medical practitioners can send tweets with links to their service pages for the purpose of enhancing the brand recognition process while also improving their conversion rates. Meanwhile, the service provides a simple, casual platform for users to reach out to practices when they have a simple question. Just remember to respect patient privacy before speaking about potentially sensitive information.


Instagram is a fun social media platform through which individuals can share pictures with friends, family, and business associates. Medical sites can use this platform to share photos of anything that can build your brand, including new company logos, pictures of outreach events, and acknowledgments of special occasions. Instagram can be used to help your audience experience your brand in a series of beautiful, exciting moments depicting the progress and evolution of your medical company.


Yelp is an online site that consumers use to find local businesses by reading customer reviews. These reviews enable online audiences to discover what other people think about the quality of services and/or products provided by a specific business. One great way to make use of this platform is by encouraging satisfied patients to leave positive online reviews about your medical site. As noted in Search Engine Land, 88% of consumers now consider these online reviews to be just as credible as a personal recommendation from someone they know.

Evaluating Outcomes And Optimizing Your SMO Campaign

To help you determine what types of results your social media optimization campaign is yielding, consider using an executive dashboard solution. These dashboards provide business owners with accessible, easy-to-read visual representations of key business measurables that will empower managers to make prudent decisions regarding how to market their products and services. One of the great benefits of a dashboard is its ability to pull data from several sources into a single panel that you can analyze to better determine where to focus your social media efforts. Through the use of an executive dashboard, medical practice owners will be able to make revenue predictions and identify key regions for optimization.

If you’re serious about making your medical company as successful as possible, the consistent, customized use of social media optimization strategies can help you realize that goal. Perform the proper research and monitor your company’s results to see how your social media efforts are affecting your business. As you do so, you’ll be better prepared to target your social media marketing to better hit your target demographics and boost just how effective your medical site can be.

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SERMO Expands Social Network for Doctors Globally to Transform Medical Crowdsourcing

SERMO Expands Social Network for Doctors Globally to Transform Medical Crowdsourcing | Social Media and Healthcare |

SERMO is now open to physicians on all seven continents, delivering on its promise from day one to unite physicians from every corner of the globe, ensuring the free flow of expert information amongst physicians.


Now available in more than 150 countries, physicians from both rural and urban areas, in developed and developing nations, can be exposed to the same expertise from their peers, providing an even higher level of care to their patients.

According to one orthopedic surgeon from Greece, SERMO offers “Exciting doctor interactions, is very helpful with difficult cases and always prompts us with very interesting social topics and discussions. It is a form of collective intelligence that allows individuals to achieve more than they could on their own.”


Combined with last month’s Drug Ratings launch, physicians will now be able to evaluate prescription drugs, in addition to communicating with peers and solving tough patient cases. These tools are revolutionizing the way physicians exchange and obtain information, as well as offer personalized care to their patients. With over 300,000 drug ratings gathered since the beta launch began last year, Ratings enables doctors globally to share prescription drug treatment experiences with their peers, transforming how physicians around the world make prescribing decisions in their daily practice.


SERMO’s membership has grown from 130,000 in 2012, when SERMO merged with WorldOne, to 650,000 total members prior to today’s expansion – now, the network includes close to 800,000 physicians.


“Doctors are busier than ever, but SERMO makes it faster and easier for us to connect with peers from around the world,” said Dr. Massimo Lanzaro, a psychiatrist from Italy in a statement. “We can compare experiences about treatment options, discuss what is really important to us, get help on complex cases – and we know we are only talking with other experts who understand our situation. I am eager to learn together with the newest members of the network.”

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6 Digital Marketing Tips for Doctors 

6 Digital Marketing Tips for Doctors  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Digital marketing for medical professionals can be complicated, and it can take a lot of time and effort to show potential patients that you're trustworthy online.

That's why I talked to our medical marketing team and got some tips for doctors who are looking to build a better online presence. Here are their tips to help you create a better digital marketing strategy.

6 Digital Marketing Tips for DoctorsCLICK TO TWEET

Google Yourself

Our first doctor marketing tip comes from Leah Fraleigh, a digital marketing strategist in our medical pod. Leah recommends that, before you begin building a strategy, you search for yourself to see how your practice looks in online searches from a consumer's perspective.

Here are Leah's tips.

It’s easy, and perhaps realistic, for a doctor or medical professional to assume referrals are the most common way patients hear your practice’s name.

However, you should never underestimate a patient’s potential to research your name online. Imagine a friend tells you about a new pair of shoes they love—would you really consider purchasing the shoes without a second glance at the price or style?

Any patient who’s been referred to you has the potential to search your name before committing—and, in fact, about a third of patients search for and check out doctors' reputations online.

Make sure you take a look at your online presence and see yourself through the eyes of someone researching you. This will give you an idea of where to start when creating your digital strategy!


Leah Fraleigh - Digital Marketing Strategist


Dru Olding, a medical digital marketing strategist, says to make sure you maintain both your business and practitioner listings as well as your social media presence. This is what Dru recommends to his clients:

Engage With Your Social Media Following

I’m guessing that you need to post more frequently and engage with your social media following.

Many medical professionals underestimate the power of social media for their practice, but remember that patients will use the internet to research your business.

You should also share industry specific articles that provide tips on certain things and big news within the industry. For example, a dentist could share an article about why you should brush your teeth more than once a day.

Note: Don’t forget that patients can now use Facebook to search for recommendations. Social media can be a powerful tool that consumers can use to discover your business, so make sure you have an active presence on at least Facebook.

Manage Both Your Business and Practitioner Listings

Make sure that your Google listings are claimed and verified for both your business and practitioner listings. You want to make sure that they are both verified for instances when a patient searches for either the business name or the practitioner’s name.

If you can handle managing all your listings, then you’ll also want to make sure all other local directories have the listings claimed and verified as well.

This will make it easier for potential patients to find and choose you. However, if you’re not managing both, you could have an inconsistent presence online and patients will find the wrong information when trying to contact you.


Dru Olding - Digital Marketing Strategist


More Tips for Maintaining Both Your Practice and Practitioner Listings

Morgan Hunt, our medical pod’s team manager, discusses a strategy that will help you get started managing multiple practitioner and practice listings.

Here's Morgan's tip:

Any practice with more than one doctor should be on one of our advanced local search plans, and each of the doctors should be on a basic local search plan.

For more information on our plans, you can check out our page on digital marketing for doctors.

Each doctor in your practice will need their own listing. You will also have to manage your entire business’s listing, which means that there’s a lot to do if you have multiple doctors at one business.

This is important because they will both show up in search results!

And, if you’re a solo practitioner who belongs to a branded organization, you’ll want to follow these rules:

If you’re the only public-facing practitioner at a location, you should share a listing with the organization. You should create (or maintain) a single listing that looks like this [company name]: [practitioner].

For more information on this, check out Google’s guidelines on listing your business on Google


Morgan Hunt - Team Manager - Medical Services


Jason Grady, digital marketing strategist, says to make sure you’re consistently getting good reviews and talks about the importance of social media reviews.

This is what Jason had to say:

Have a Review Marketing Strategy for Your Medical Practice

Doctors must have recent positive reviews to set themselves apart as the best choice for potential patients. You should be soliciting reviews for, at least, Google and Facebook. Even if your practice shows up in local search results, without new, positive reviews, you will not appear to be the right choice.

Don't Forget About Reviews on Social Media

You should be using social media to educate, create a brand voice and create the demand for your service. And don't forget that patients can review you on Facebook; positive reviews on your Facebook profile can show that you're personable and trustworthy.

To build your reviews on Facebook, start by having someone in your practice ask patients to review you or your practice. (This can work for other review platforms like Google as well.)

You'll also want to monitor your Facebook page and reply to any negative reviews.

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Five Reasons Why Social Media Marketing for Doctors Works

Five Reasons Why Social Media Marketing for Doctors Works | Social Media and Healthcare |

It’s often hard for a doctor to find the time for effective digital marketing. When you aren’t seeing patients, you’re probably using what little time you have to write new blog posts and try to drive traffic to your website. You might feel as though social media is something best left to corporations with large online marketing teams. If you’re neglecting social media in your practice’s digital marketing strategy, though, you’re leaving some significant potential benefits on the table. In this article, we’ll explain some of those benefits.

Interact With Your Patients

The greatest benefit of marketing your medical practice on social media is that doing so gives you an opportunity to connect with your patients. With social media, you can keep patients informed about the latest services you’re offering and provide updates about your office hours. If you’ll be away for the holidays, for example, social media gives you an easy way to notify your patients and let them know who will cover for you while you’re away.

Becoming active on social media can also keep your medical practice at the top of patients’ minds and potentially increase the amount of business that you receive from your existing patients. During flu season, for example, you can use social media to remind your patients that it’s time to come in for flu shots. During the summer, you can post a reminder about the benefits of seeing your family doctor for routine checkups.

Social media can help your practice retain its existing patients. If your patients know that you’re a helpful doctor who cares about their health, it’s less likely that they will ever consider seeing a different doctor. Take the time to interact personally with your patients on social media and provide thoughtful answers to their questions.

Become a Thought Leader

One of the easiest ways to bring consistent traffic to your medical website is to post on social media each time you add a new blog post or article to your website. You’ll give your patients an even better reason to follow you on social media, though, if you post content on your social media pages that aren’t available elsewhere.

Every social media platform that you join gives you an opportunity to post useful content that increases awareness of your practice and positions you as a thought leader. If you have the capacity to write a large volume of content, you can cast a wide net by posting great content on all of the most popular social media networks. It’ll be impossible for social media users not to know your name.

Posting articles aren’t the only way to create a presence for your medical practice on social media. You can also join existing conversations by looking for groups on LinkedIn or running hashtag searches on Twitter. Question-and-answer websites such as Quora are also great places for you to contribute to discussions, help people with their problems and generate traffic for your website.

Rank for Difficult Keywords

Have you spent any time monitoring Google’s rankings for your most important keyword phrases? If your website is relatively new and doesn’t have many inbound links yet, it’s likely that what you’ve found has disappointed you. Each new patient is extremely profitable for a medical practice, so you’ll find that every keyword for which you’d like your website to rank will already have plenty of existing competition.

With time, you can increase your website’s rank for competitive keywords. For now, though, you need a way to give your practice a presence on competitive search results pages — and posting content on social media is one way to do that. Popular social media websites have already gone through the difficult process of building names for themselves, so an article posted on a website such as Facebook or LinkedIn often has an excellent chance to rank well for its target keyword phrase.

You can take the strategy of posting content on social media even further by focusing on the same keyword phrase across multiple social media platforms. Suppose, for example, that your website has an article with an extremely competitive target keyword phrase such as “heart health.” You may have written the best article about heart health that’s available anywhere online, but it’ll still be a while before the article gets any attention. Your competitors have older, more established websites with plenty of inbound links. How can you get a leg up? Social media can be a crucial part of your strategy for improving the rank of your article.

If you’re an expert on the topic of heart health, it’s likely that you have a great deal to say about it. You could probably write many interesting articles about heart health in addition to the one on your website — so write a unique article for each social media platform. In each article, link to the heart health article on your website. As your social media articles gain attention and contribute to your notoriety, they’ll increase your website’s search engine rank.

Connect With Other Professionals

Professional relationships are important in any industry. As a doctor, having strong relationships with other doctors gives you people with whom you can consult when you have patients with unusual medical problems. Having professional connections with other doctors also gives you a pool of experts to whom you can refer your patients when necessary. Those doctors may also refer their patients to you occasionally.

It’s also wise to connect with other medical professionals on social media because doing so gives you the potential ability to connect with their social media audiences. It’s valuable to you whenever any person shares your social media posts with their followers. When a fellow doctor shares your content, though, you’re receiving a vote of confidence from a respected authority in his or her field — and that carries extra weight.

Connecting with other doctors on social media is easy. Start with local doctors. Make a list of the doctors in your area, and search social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to see if those doctors have profiles. Follow those doctors, and send messages to them to introduce yourself. Many of them will follow you in return.

LinkedIn is also an excellent social network on which to connect with fellow doctors. Since LinkedIn’s primary purpose is to give professionals a way to connect with one another, you can find LinkedIn groups in which doctors converse. Search LinkedIn to see if a group of doctors in your area exists. If you find a group, join it. Read the discussions in the group. When you feel the time is right, jump in and introduce yourself.

Pay for Qualified Local Traffic

Like search engines, social networks earn much of their revenue from selling advertising space — and since people share their lives with one another on social media, social networks tend to know their users very well. When you advertise on a search engine such as Google, you target a specific search keyword. You can also use geographical targeting to ensure that only people in your region see your advertisement.

When you advertise on social media, you may pay a bit more — but you can target a much more specific group. Depending on the advertising features that a social network offers, you may have the ability to target people based on specific demographic details. For example, you can target people based on their ages, genders and education levels. You may also be able to target people based on their interests and professional affiliations. If you want to acquire specific types of people as new patients, social media makes it easy to advertise to very specific groups of people.

Facebook is an online advertising platform that can actually select a target audience consisting of people who are likely to become new patients. Suppose that you have an active advertisement on Facebook. The advertisement sends people to a page with a form for requesting an appointment. When a visitor submits the form, your website redirects him or her to a page containing a message of thanks and telling the new patient that someone from your office will call shortly. In Facebook’s advertising interface, you can enter the URL of the “Thank You” page. Whenever a visitor loads that page, Facebook will recognize the event as a conversion. If you tell Facebook to optimize your advertising campaign for the most possible conversions, Facebook will begin showing your advertisement to people with statistical similarities to people who have submitted the form. Over time, the conversion rate of your advertisement will increase.

Get Help With Your Social Media Marketing Now

For any medical professional, the benefits of social media marketing are simply too great to ignore. Social media helps you find new patients while building deeper relationships with your existing patients. Social media connects you with other medical professionals and helps you increase the search engine ranking of your website. Getting the maximum possible benefit from social media isn’t easy, though. Social media marketing requires a major time commitment, and time is something that you may not have in abundance

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Internet-savvy patients a pain for doctors: study

Internet-savvy patients a pain for doctors: study | Social Media and Healthcare |

Survey finds commercialisation of healthcare and pressure from patients major handicaps for doctors

According to a recent study, the social media-driven expectations of patients and commerce creeping in to make healthcare a business are the biggest handicaps doctors currently have to work with.

The study titled ‘Truth About Doctors’ interviewed nearly 2,000 doctors globally, who said that they find themselves at a crossroad with technology, lack of time and pressure from patients “briefed” by social media. The study states that while doctors remain at the centre of the health and wellness ecosystem, 53% of those interviewed felt that “time” was their most valuable resource. The study was conducted jointly by McCann Health and McCann Truth Central units of group marketing services firm.

‘Frustrating’ work

Incidentally, 82% of the doctors interviewed see “providing care” as their primary role in society. However, they also felt stripped of their “ability to provide care” by the commercial system. As doctors around the world reported feeling a loss of power, it was no surprise that “frustration” was one of the top words listed in relation to the profession.


Reacting to the survey’s findings and implications for the situation in India, Indian Medical Association president Dr. K.K. Aggarwal said: “Doctors today are exposed to patients who are active on social media and have access to information of all kind. Rising violence against doctors is also a matter of concern. Most of them react to doctors as part of a commercial establishment.”

Meanwhile, the survey threw up a big surprise on the technology front. As high as 53% of those in the age group of 18-34 felt that in the future, technology will replace doctors. The group was of the view that at some point, doctors would be redundant.

Percception shift

“How society sees doctors has changed immensely over the last few years. This change in perception, driven by increased privatisation has put pressure on doctors not just in India but all over the world. Technology, while improving treatment, is also empowering patients and hence changing the doctor-patient relationship,” noted Jitender Dabas, chief strategy officer, McCann Worldgroup India Technology.

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Hospital Impact: For healthcare leaders, it pays to have a high social media IQ

Hospital Impact: For healthcare leaders, it pays to have a high social media IQ | Social Media and Healthcare |

Earlier this month, I reached my 4,000th connection on LinkedIn. That does not make me an expert on social media. However, it does serve as an indicator of my status of being somewhat knowledgeable of the social media space. I have successfully used my web presence to keep in touch with colleagues, network extensively and extend my reach, professionally, well beyond the four walls of our facility. I have also used it on a regular basis to positively promote the hospitals and healthcare facilities that I have been responsible for.

For years, I have been encouraging hospital and healthcare leaders to have a very high social media IQ in order to excel and flourish in today’s volatile world. I recommend that hospitals and healthcare organizations maintain an active presence on, at least, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Yelp. All four of these sites are an open invitation for people, active on the web, to form opinions about your organization and potentially to serve as your best marketers, or worst detractors.

Here is an example of a reason why. I have personally served as an administrator of the Facebook page at four facilities that I have led. This allows me to have very quick access to any content that is written about my facility on the Facebook site. I still recall a time, once, when I received notification that a Facebook user had signed into Facebook and announced that they were being seen as a patient at our facility that very day. I went online and looked up the notification and noted that the patient wrote something that made me uncomfortable.

Later that day, I spoke to the patient’s physician and informed him about the Facebook posting. The physician later probed the patient, without revealing that he was aware of the posting, to determine if there were any concerns that had not been verbalized. The patient reassured the physician that was not the case. Later, I noticed that the patient had added loud praise for both the physician and our facility on that Facebook page. I was delighted, of course, that this patient had a good experience and even happier that the patient shared a positive experience on the web.

I realize that busy healthcare executives often do not have the time to monitor all of their organization’s social content. But it is important that someone, preferably with leadership awareness, is keeping current on your presence on the web and keeping you informed. Interventions on the web can be made as necessary.

Here are some things to be aware of and remember when you are establishing your social media policy. This is a great opportunity to positively promote your facility to hundreds of thousands of people. However, don’t ever get trapped into violating HIPAA on the web. That means no posting of patient photos or identifying information, or even information that can inadvertently identify a patient. Also, don’t ever respond to healthcare questions posed on social media. That type of information is best left to sites such as WebMD that specialize in providing medical information. Keep the content positive.

Also, be sure and use the web to keep yourself informed and an active participant in the healthcare industry. It will pay immeasurable dividends.

Raymond Hino is an administrator at Skyway Surgery Center in Chico, California. He was previously the president and CEO of the Sonoma West Medical Center.

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Reality of Patient Engagement Infographic

Reality of Patient Engagement Infographic | Social Media and Healthcare |
I always love a good infographic. Boston Technology has put one out that looks at patient engagement. Which of the numbers on the infographic pops out to you?
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Are Facebook user ratings associated with hospital cost, quality and patient satisfaction? 

Are Facebook user ratings associated with hospital cost, quality and patient satisfaction?  | Social Media and Healthcare |
Background Hospital care costs are high while quality varies across hospitals. Patient satisfaction may be associated with better clinical quality, and social media ratings may offer another opportunity to measure patient satisfaction with care.

Objectives To test if Facebook user ratings of hospitals are associated with existing measures of patient satisfaction, cost and quality.

Research design Data were obtained from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Hospital Compare, the Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment System impact files and the Area Health Resource File for 2015. Information from hospitals’ Facebook pages was collected in July 2016. Multivariate linear regression was used to test if there is an association between Facebook user ratings (star rating and adjusted number of ‘likes’) and Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) patient satisfaction measures, the 30-day all-cause readmission rate, and the Medicare spending per beneficiary (MSPB) ratio.

Subjects One hundred and thirty-six acute care hospitals in New York State in 2015.

Results An increase in the Facebook star rating is associated with significant increases in 21/23 HCAHPS measures (p≤0.003). An increase in the adjusted number of ‘likes’ is associated with very small increases in 3/23 HCAHPS measures (p<0.05). Facebook user ratings are not associated with the 30-day all-cause readmission rate or the Medicare spending per beneficiary ratio.

Conclusions Results demonstrate an association between HCAHPS patient satisfaction measures and Facebook star ratings. Adjusted number of ‘likes’ may not be a useful measure of patient satisfaction.
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The Quest for Meaningful Pharma-Patient Dialogue

The Quest for Meaningful Pharma-Patient Dialogue | Social Media and Healthcare |

Over the last decade or so, patient groups have become better organized, more professional, and, not least, more vocal. As the pharmaceutical industry and regulators have acknowledged this strengthening of influence and resources, the patient has begun to have more impact on the way pharma works, particularly in health technology assessment markets. Consequently, the move to involve patients across the drug development and commercialization process—from R&D and clinical trials to promotional campaigns—is becoming an increasingly important consideration for companies committed to pursuing transformational medical innovation. 

There are, of course, remaining barriers to the smooth cooperation of pharma and patient groups. A pharma company is a commercial organization, bound by regulatory restrictions and the expectations of all its stakeholders. The relationships pharma companies have with patient organizations can only advance if the right balance is struck and clearly defined boundaries are established. Historically, as Steve Wooding, head of Janssen’s global commercial and market access strategy organization, points out, there have been issues resulting from the potential of both pharma and patient organizations to use their influence inappropriately. 

“The patient voice has to come through, but there needs to be a clear separation between responsibility and accountability,” Wooding told Pharm Exec. “We do need to make sure that the relationship is on an equal footing and is based around appropriate exchange of information.”

Ipsos MORI’s head of ethnography, Victoria Guyatt, notes the operational barriers to shifting further toward patient centricity. “There’s still the thinking among pharma companies that, ‘if we talk to patients, does that mean we can’t deliver for our stakeholders?’” she says. “One of the things that pharma is getting good at is the gathering of patient insights—listening on social media, for example—but embedding and pushing these insights out to the rest of the organization, the R&D teams, is still difficult. And there’s a lot of anxiety about doing the wrong thing.” 

For Abeona Therapeutics’ vice president for patient advocacy, Michelle Berg, “harmonizing language and terminology” is a challenge. “It can be difficult for some individuals, or families or community members to understand the drug development practice, gene therapy and clinical trials,” she says.

The digital dilemma

Developments in digital communication have radically altered the position of patients, and there is broad consensus that the resulting empowerment has brought major improvements to the pharma-patient dialogue. From a rare disease perspective, in particular, social media and online forums have  proved to be vital tools that can engage patient communities that were hitherto almost invisible. 

Abeona Therapeutics focuses on developing products for severe and life-threatening rare genetic diseases, such as mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS) IIIA and IIIB, a progressive neuromuscular disease with profound CNS involvement, which manifests in young children. Berg told Pharm Exec: “I am grateful that we have such communication tools available for families, because knowing that these are such rare diseases, there are not clusters of families in a region who can find each other and share experiences. With the advent of digital communications, families and healthcare providers have the opportunity to locate and support one another.”

A patient diagnosed with acanthamoeba keratitis, a rare amoebic infection of the cornea, told The BMJ’s Stephen Armstrong (“Social Networking for Patients,” August 10, 2016) that when she was first diagnosed, “most of the information I could find was either inaccurate or terrifying. But I found a Facebook group, with only 38 members at the time, and the relief was enormous. I was so happy to connect with someone, to share the same emotions and experiences, the same anxiety and frustration and shock in a normal, accessible way.”

Armstrong adds that online groups don’t just enable patients to share experiences and support each other. He points to research from the University of Toronto conducted in 2011 that found that the 620 groups on Facebook for breast cancer had purposes including fundraising (44.7%), raising awareness (38.1%), promoting products or services (9%), and exclusively offering support to patients or caregivers (7%).

However, Armstrong also highlights the risk of social media disseminating misleading, superfluous, or incorrect information, or being used for the promotion of dangerous or unsuitable remedies. Berg adds that “communication tools are only going to be as good as the information that is perpetuated, and a problem can be that false or inaccurate information can be perpetuated quite quickly, which can have a negative impact. That’s why it’s important for organizations to have resources available and that are committed to supporting individuals and families with rare diseases, offering resources that can serve as a fact-check against any information that might not be right.” 

Marc Princen, EVP and president, international business, Allergan, reminds us that pharma is a very regulated industry. “We are talking about decision-making where trained healthcare professionals must make the right decisions,” he says. “It shouldn’t be just a free-for-all. We need to respect the regulations. It is helpful that the technology exists and people can get better informed, but professional advice and decision-making is still needed.”

Armstrong observes that “few physicians are currently using social media to talk to patients.” Indeed, for some patients, “the idea of any healthcare professionals taking part in patient groups is an anathema; many see them as private patient spaces where people can vent frustrations about treatment,” he says. If clinicians are to engage, they need to keep up to date. Armstrong spoke to one parent who explained that her daughter, who has type 1 diabetes, only uses the photo and picture-based platforms Instagram and Snapchat rather than Facebook or Twitter. She added she had “no idea” how clinicians could use these platforms even if they can understand them.


Patient-driven results

Nevertheless, the pharma-patient dialogue continues to advance, and pharma is faced with re-evaluating how to incorporate the patient view in its processes, not just to facilitate a better relationship but effectively to translate innovation into the market.

“In the old days, you had your product and you put it out there. But to bring meaningful innovation to people today, for instance, with clinical trials, we have to ask ourselves: are we designing trials that are great for the scientists but impossible for the patients?” says Wooding. “The latter will ultimately delay access and commercialization of your medicine. And what endpoints do we need? Whether a treatment shrinks a tumor, for example, is a useful endpoint from a regulatory standpoint; but it may not be enough from a patient standpoint, if they don’t feel better or their quality of life is not improved along with the medical benefit.” 

These are the criteria, says Wooding, that payers are starting to look at, “so we have an opportunity now to build those metrics into the process in a meaningful way.”

In many cases, symptomatic relief is more important to patients than outcome improvements in the long run. With payers in the past having valued outcome improvements higher than symptomatic improvements, it has become clear that the patient voice needs to be drawn further into the debate. As Pharm Exec’s Jill Wechsler noted in her April column, FDA is now looking to improve communications with patients by forming an Office of Patient Affairs in the Office of the Commissioner. “This would provide a single, central entity to handle inquiries from the patient community, and would expand the current patient team in FDA’s Office of Health and Constituent Affairs,” she wrote. 

From the industry side, building meaningful relationships with patient groups is less a case of responding to patient lobbying and more a case of encouraging them “to share with us what is important to them so that we can actually make those developments,” says Wooding. 

Princen, who was formerly Takeda’s president of Europe and Canada, notes that it is about finding out “how you can institutionalize working with the patient.” He says that Takeda worked with an outside think tank, which put together criteria for inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. “We developed an app that included these criteria, allowing for collection of data on symptoms, triggers and aggravating factors, and provided it to patient organizations,” he says. “This type of objective criteria-setting is really useful, and it is where the patient organizations are very helpful. The next step was to work with the payers, measuring the real patient outcomes and then work out how the funding could be shared.”

So, what does pharma look for from a patient group to facilitate an effective collaboration? Ideally, according to Wooding,  it’s the ability to connect with a large unifying group. 

“But that isn’t always possible,” he says. “It is certainly an advantage if they have a depth of scientific knowledge. They should be informed and have a clear structure that we can interact with; they need to have the right charter in place and to be professionally operated.”

Wooding adds that, in specialty areas, particularly in diseases with increasingly complex treatments and where the side effects need to be managed effectively, “effective partnering is easier with a better informed, better aligned patient.”

For Berg, “it’s very important to collaborate and partner with those specific communities that we are aiming to serve, in order to step into their shoes and understand the impact of what that disease might be, not only for the individuals afflicted but, in the case of much of what we’re working on, in the pediatric population.” She believes  that understanding what’s important to the parents and caregivers is critical and, in some cases, may be more important than understanding the priorities of the children themselves. “Because with these diseases, their voices are not really able to be heard,” says Berg.


A measure of how important patient input is perceived in the rare disease area is highlighted by results of a survey of over 3,000 US patients and caregivers across several hundred diseases and conditions, conducted this year by Rare Patient Voice. The survey found that the majority of respondents (55%) were in favor of patient advocacy groups partnering with pharma or biotechnology companies to develop drugs for medical conditions. Some of those who support partnerships stressed that they can enable drug development to take patient perspectives into account; that they are the best way to obtain funding; that they can accelerate the development of treatments; and that, ultimately, “anything that might help obtain a cure or improvement should be tried.”

Writing on the Clinical Trials Arena website, Horizon Pharma’s Dr. Jeffrey Sherman, in an article published late last year, emphasizes that “engaging with patient groups to understand the patient voice from the beginning of research can greatly benefit overall drug development.”  Sherman outlines how, for a clinical trial evaluating a medicine for the treatment of Friedreich’s ataxia (FA), a rare neuromuscular disorder, Horizon collaborated from the outset with the patient organization Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA). 

“FARA offered crucial input on trial design to ensure that travel requirements, medicine administration and study eligibility criteria were realistic within the FA community,” he notes. “Moreover, FARA provided full access to its comprehensive patient registry, the only collection of demographic and clinical information for 2,000-plus FA patients around the world.” 

The result was that the FA study completed enrollment in less than one year, “an unusually fast pace for a rare disease trial.”

An expanding opportunity

While Wooding acknowledges that, in terms of involving patients, “there are only so many things that you can choose to do within an R&D setting,” he points out that Janssen’s move in this direction has begun to deliver results for the company in the last couple of years. 

“We are now starting to see patient-reported outcomes become acceptable in terms of registration and licensing and labeling,” says Wooding. “For example, for a prostate cancer medicine, we now have within the indication the fact that the drug can have an impact on pain. For most patients, that is their most relevant day-to-day symptom. Those kinds of things are working their way through into labels. The only way for a company to anticipate what’s important to patients is to have their input. With the availability of more data, to link to the genotype and phenotype, this will become even more of an opportunity.”

Wooding concludes: “We have always been a patient-oriented company, highly aware that patients are waiting. We realize, however, that not only are patients waiting, they are engaging and wanting to take more control of their own destinies.” 

It is very clear, he says, that the voice of the patient is not only going to become more influential, but will have a significant impact from a business point of view. “At Janssen, we heard it,” says Wooding. “Now we needed to do something about it. Some of that is about best practice sharing; some is about spreading the message within our organization. In other cases, it’s about trying out new approaches and seeing what works. It’s about continuing the patient dialogue—and learning from it.” 

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I am a social media medical doctor because i simply want to help patients… My Twitter Story!!!

I am a social media medical doctor because i simply want to help patients… My Twitter Story!!! | Social Media and Healthcare |

I got to know about Twitter in a very odd manner. That was in 2012, when I was still in Medical School. I had just passed my MBBS examination and was only relaxing after weeks of serious reading, when two room-mates of mine walked in, debating as usual. But this time, it was very clear they were discussing an issue i have never heard of, Twitter.


It appeared the gist was about a fast rising “gossip blog” Linda Ikeji’s Blog, whom they believed was spewing so much controversy in the society. At the time, I wondered how a single blog could be so influential, yet I had not heard about it. I like to believe I know so much more than an average person, so in my mind i thought she must be overrated. Now, I know better.

So I whipped out my blackberry device and went straight to search engine, Google, where I read loads and loads of stories about Twitter. That day I signed up to Twitter and I have been moving at a pace I consider too slow.

Twitter is a micro-blogging social media where people of like minds and interest follow one another to share in their knowledge.

As a medical student, the life and work load of that phase of life made it  almost near impossible to be an active participant on twitter. But now that I have experienced the true nature of twitter, twitter-ing is now a part of what I must do everyday as a social media doctor.

Twitter gets to expose you to similar users who discuss issues and topics of relevance in your niche. A tweet is said to be so strong that it could change the course of how health issues are looked at. This is usually achieved via strong campaigns with hashtagging certain words.

A perfect example of this is how #RegulateInternship campaign have influenced the authorities to act accordingly. The Federal Government have approved the centralisation of internship matters, including posting and funding of young doctors. This campaign have been on for over a year on twitter, and the fruit was only seen recently.

Tweeting got me connected to world class health institutions like the World Health Organisation, the National Postgraduate College of Medicine, Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health etc. Daily updates and direct correspondences, via tweets and Direct messaging, have kept me abreast of all health information and have made me a better social media doctor, a concept that is still new in Nigeria.

To be a social media doctor allows you to have a broader engagement with patients and clients on topical issues affecting health. It simply makes you brimming with so much knowledge. It affords a doctor to join veritable health projects as a volunteer, to help those who may not be able to pay for a medical service.

A social media doctor influences health issues online and in real time. This what i love most about being a social media doctor… To be perpetually with your patients and/or clients 24/7. This is why social media doctors may appear so organised and meticulous since every new step as important as the former. Client-Doctor relationship is paramount in this fast rising field, so the patient/client gets to be the king in the game

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How hospitals use data for patient education 

How hospitals use data for patient education  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Patient portals and telehealth provide crucial insights into patient concerns, treatments and behaviors. The value of this information is elevated when communicators can connect it to patient education, content development and outcomes.

This infographic shows that hospitals with strong digital relationships and an emphasis on relevant patient education:

  • Provide clear post-care instructions to individuals being discharged

  • Use emails to maintain contact and keep communication open

  • Offer patient satisfaction surveys to monitor experiences

Take a look:

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Posting About Your Residents on Social Media Violates More Codes Than You Could Ever Imagine

Posting About Your Residents on Social Media Violates More Codes Than You Could Ever Imagine | Social Media and Healthcare |

Amid shocking new realities like broadcasted rapes and a Facebook Live murder, debate on how to address malicious use of social media is rightfully underway.

The nursing home industry is not immune. News stories are surfacing about nursing home patients and residents being photographed for Snapchat and other social media outlets covered in their own feces, getting ready for the shower or engaged in sexual relations. The images are appalling, and only humiliate vulnerable patients and residents served in nursing homes. 

For many years, these acts pre-dated any laws on patient violations. That is quickly changing. Last year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) began reviewing nursing homes’ policies regarding staff members violating patient rights on social media.

The Joint Commission is strongly urging all organizations including nursing homes to draft a social media abuse policy and train employees accordingly. 

Geriatric Abuse Assessment Violation
Know that The Joint Commission considers social media abuse a violation of PC.01.02.09, EP1. It’s essential that we assess and re-assess our patients and residents for any possible indication of mistreatment on social media as judiciously as we would for:

  • physical abuse
  • sexual, abuse
  • domestic abuse, or
  • any other form of abuse, neglect, or exploitation

In addition to this EP, PC.01.02.09 EP 3 states: “The organization educates staff about how to recognize signs of possible abuse, neglect, and exploitation, and about their roles in follow-up, including reporting. (See also HR.01.05.03, EP 5). Staff should educated by the facility on what constitutes:

  • abuse
  • neglect
  • exploitation
  • individual responsibility to report.

Video recording without consent opens an organization up to non-compliance allegations and raises questions about reporting requirements for abuse, neglect and exploitation. The Leadership chapter of The Joint Commission Accreditation Manual, specifically LD.04.01.01 EP 2, and the Information Management chapter IM.02.01.01, EP 3 speaks to sharing of health information only for purposes permitted by law and regulation.

Lastly, organizations are expected to have an organization-wide, integrated patient and resident safety program. Leadership is responsible for providing and encouraging the use of systems for blame-free internal reporting in LD.04.04.05, EP6. Staff must feel safe to report any abuse, neglect or exploitation that they witness in order to have a true culture of safety. (Learn more about the importance of blame-free reporting as one of the 11 tenets of safety culture in this blog.)

Marketing Materials Infringement
When a patient or resident is admitted into a nursing home, it is standard policy to present a document affirming that it’s acceptable to take and use photographs in facility’s marketing materials. This does not, however, extend to capturing patient or resident images for a staff member’s personal social media feed, even with the purest intent. (Yes, it does happen that staff member post a resident photo in a positive capacity, thinking this is admissible.)

The Joint Commission requires facilities to seek informed consent when residents are photographed or videotaped for external distribution under RI.01.03.03, EPs 1 and 2. This mandates an explanation of how the materials will be used. Under no circumstances is it ever acceptable to \ patient or resident images obtained for publicity purposes into memes.

Acknowledging HIPPA
Clinical and non-clinical staff are trained extensively on HIPAA regulations, and there is nothing that can be justified as suitable for posting about a patient or resident without authorization.
In 1996, HIPPA was enacted, ensuring data privacy and provisions for safeguarding patient medical information, including:

  1. names
  2. addresses
  3. all elements of dates (except year) directly related to an individual
  4. phone numbers
  5. fax numbers
  6. electronic mail addresses
  7. Social Security numbers
  8. medical record numbers
  9. health plan beneficiary numbers
  10. account numbers
  11. certificate/license numbers
  12. vehicle identifiers and serial numbers, including license plate numbers
  13. device identifiers and serial numbers
  14. web Universal Resource Locators (URLs)
  15. Internet Protocol (IP) address numbers
  16. biometric identifiers, including finger and voice prints
  17. full face photographic images and any comparable images; and
  18. any other unique identifying number, characteristic, or code (note this does not mean the unique code assigned by the investigator to code the data)

On social media, many people fall into the pitfall of thinking that anonymous photos of patients or residents don’t fall into any of these categories. However, if you showcase a face combined with the name of the facility without a HIPPA-compliant authorization, it’s considered a HIPPA violation.

This stands even when the patient has offered verbal or written (non-HIPPA specific) consent. Even when the offending staff member doesn’t list the facility name on his or her social media profile, it can still be discovered with a simple Internet search of staff’s name or comments about where the staff member is working, or the geographical area and, therefore, may still be a HIPPA violation.

It’s also common for violators to think they won’t be caught. While that may have been the case in the dawn of social media, times have changed. In fact, the Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights already opened investigations of breaches affecting 500 individuals and more will surely follow.

Implications are far-flung in each and every one of these cases. Individual offenders can suffer significant penalties with an intentional violation of the law.  For the nursing home, consequences can be severe, encompassing:

  • adverse licensure actions
  • civil monetary and/or penalties from $100-$50,000 per violation per day
  • sanctions by federal and state regulatory authorities
  • trigger of the HIPPA Breach Notification Rule

It’s worth your time to train your staff on the dire consequences to ill-conceived publishing on social media. The wrong kind of post can not only end up costing your organization a great deal of money—it’s also harmful and degrading to our patients and residents

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Three Ways to Drive Patient Engagement through Social Media

Three Ways to Drive Patient Engagement through Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

One thing that we focus on with our clients at Dodge is how to help them better engage with all generations of patients. While traditional media and external marketing campaigns have been typically used in the past, increasing engagement via social media is now a key way to communicate.

Why is social media so important when achieving patient engagement? A study from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics found that between 70 and 75 percent of U.S. consumers look to the internet for healthcare advice, of which 40 percent rely on responses from social sites. Based on this finding, we now know that social media is continuing to grow and adopting social media into patient engagement strategies is imperative for all healthcare companies.

Below are three ways that can develop and drive patient engagement through social media.

Communicate to them in the way they prefer. The Pew Research Center found that 87 percent of online adults in the U.S. age 18 to 29 use Facebook, with 53 percent on Instagram, 37 percent on Twitter and 34 percent on Pinterest. This means that social media has turned into their preferred communication method. It also shows that if you are able to spread your message across all of these social channels, you’ll be able to reach your target audience via social media. It’s important to reach your patient population in the way that they prefer in order to drive patient satisfaction and, in the end, drive a long-term patient engagement and retention.

Leverage your online reviews. Patients may leave reviews on social media channels such as Yelp or HealthGrades, and some reviews may be good while others aren’t. No matter what type of review it is, it’s important to respond to not only try and mitigate the situation, but to show current and potential patients that you are attentive to those channels. This is especially true since according to a study released by PNC Healthcare, nearly 50 percent of millennials and Gen-Xers use online reviews to help their decision in healthcare situations.

Address their concerns. While patients may not be able to have their medication questions answered via social media, they should be able to find some answers regarding their care. For example, if a practice has a lot of diabetic patients, that practice could leverage their social media channels to provide their patients with recipes, diets and exercises tips geared towards their chronic condition.

No matter how you define patient engagement, social media has become a major component for practices when it comes to driving engagement with their patients.

How has your company been leveraging social media to drive patient engagement?

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